Melanie is the author of “Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide To Staying Fearless and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer” (Cedar Fort Inc./September 2013), recipient of the 2014 International Book of the Year for Cancer Health Topics.
Her second book, “Fearless Fabulous You! – Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms” (Cedar Fort) will be released in November 2014.
An accomplished leader, motivator, writer and mentor, Melanie Young has led a highly successful career as CEO of “The Connected Table” which develops and manages marketing, promotion and media programs for wines, spirits and fine foods. Her highly acclaimed coaching practice “Well-Connected” helps individuals make healthier lifestyle choices and reconnect with their personal goals.
Young is a frequent speaker and writer on the subject of women’s health and empowerment, breast cancer management and recovery, stress management and life reinvention. She has appeared on radio and television to discuss her book and women’s health and contributes to Huffington Post and many wellness blogs. She is a recipient of two awards for her breast cancer awareness and patient advocacy work.
In your first book, “Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless & Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer”, you focus on helping newly diagnosed women take charge of their cancer treatment. Did you take charge of your cancer treatment program when you were diagnosed? Is this book a guide of the things you learned in your journey?
I am a “take charge” kind of person. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009, my natural instincts to take charge of the situation kicked in. I knew I did not want cancer to control my life and I was determined to be as focused as possible on making the best decisions for my health and my well-bring, not only for me but for my husband who was my caretaker and my business which needed to sustain us both financially.
But I was in uncharted waters and found that many of the books for newly diagnosed women did not have the information I wanted on what to ask my doctors about my condition, surgery and treatment; how to prepare myself (mind, body, lifestyle); and how to deal with side effects to stay strong and functioning best I could.
I also just want to look and feel my best since I knew that would boost my confidence at a time when both your physical and emotional defenses are down. I wanted practical beauty tips on dealing with my skin, nails, oral care and hair loss. And I wanted to maintain a smart diet. Being a food professional, this was a challenge since I organized wine and food events for a living, and while undergoing treatment! But I totally focused on putting only healthy foods in my body during treatment.
I started making lists to stay focused and organized and write down everything I experienced with the goal to help others be better prepared when they hear the words “You have cancer.” It’s not something you prepare for, and everyone feels lost.
Your second book, “Fearless Fabulous You!” inspires cancer survivors to move forward in their life despite the emotional trauma of cancer. Can you tell us what healing therapies you practice?
In “Getting Things Off My Chest”, I discuss my “Holy Trinity” to stay healthy during chemo: Hydrate (drink plenty of healthy fluids to fight dehydration and dizziness), Gyrate (daily movement to boost energy and fight chemo brain and neuropathy) and Masticate (maintaining a sensible nutrition plan focusing on eating lean, whole foods in small portions on a steady basis and avoiding fatty, processed, sugary foods). I’ve added two more essential areas of staying fearless & fabulous to deal with emotional ups and downs and maintain mental energy: Meditate (simple meditation to clear your mind and restore calm) and Stimulate (finding a create outlet to keep your mind active and senses stimulated). I have also learned to push the Pause button when my mental and emotional system starts to feel overloaded and Delete anything that leads to toxic stress (any stress really but especially stress that wears you down physically and emotionally)
Your life and your career have been all about connection. As “Chief Connector” in your brand building business, “The Connected Table”, or more recently as a public speaker for women’s organizations, breast cancer survivor and advocacy groups, you were the one giving the strengthening messages. Do you feel an emotional connection to your audiences and does that connection make a difference in their healing process?
I feel a powerful connection to the women I have met. Many have pulled me aside to confide in me that they want to move on from their cancer experience but feel stuck. They may be still processing what happened to them. They may be living with permanent physical or emotional side effects (e.g., lymphedema, neuropathy, residual effects from chemo brain, body image issues, decreased sexuality). They live with a fear of recurrence. They feel having cancer was a message to change their lives. They know they have been given their life back after treatment but know what they want to do or how to proceed.
I wrote “Fearless Fabulous You! –Lessons for Living life on Your Terms” for those women and for any woman- or man- who has experienced a life altering experience, rough hurdle, or temporary setback. My goal with “Fearless Fabulous You!” is to help readers recharge their emotional batteries, release toxic stress and emotional roadblocks, reconnect with the person they want to be and the skills and talents they have to offer, reframe what has happened in their lives to rethink what they want to so and, ultimately, reclaim their lives.
To follow Melanie click here for her website and blogs.